“In the 1960s, police officers who specialized in apprehending prostitutes came to be known as the pussy posse.” (224-225).
Stuffed to the brim with etymologies of various sex-related terms, each chapter of Dirty Words focuses on a set of words—for example, words for sexual orientations or masturbation—and traces their adaptations through history. Morton suggests in the introduction to just read one chapter at a time, and I would certainly second this suggestion as every chapter has so much information in it, that reading more than two at a time might actually cause a headache. Given the amount of pure information compressed into only 363 pages, there is lots of rereading and reference potential for this book. The contents of this book are extremely intriguing, and make for fun random factoids. For a few pages, thirteen hundred words for penis are listed, some notable ones being: Captain Picard, giggle stick, pendulum, Prince Everhard of the Netherlands, purple-headed avenger, and 3-4-2-5.
Reading Morton’s writing is much like following a wandering path, as he often throws in etymological tangents. Overall, Morton tends to write things simply and makes the text rather accessible. While he occasionally does come across as condescending, this does not occur often enough that it significantly detracts from the reading experience. Unfortunately there is no index, so looking up a particular word can be time-consuming.
If you’re curious about the variety of things “tail” can describe, how certain slang terms came to refer to seemingly nonsensical definitions, or simply want to get more bawdy humor out of Shakespeare, this is your book!